A lot of photographers prefer to take their shots during the blue hour, however, I find shooting at night more fascinating. Here are some tips you need to keep in mind to get the best shots.
For night photography it is best to shoot in manual mode, so you can control your aperture and the shutter speed to get the exposure you are looking for.
There is no perfect setting for night photography, but I usually start with f/16 to achieve sufficient depth of field, and then I try different shutter speed. Until I get a good result, I try again with f/9 and do the same thing again. All that with ISO set to 100 to reduce the noise. You can’t always judge if the exposure is good or not on your LCD so it’s better to try different exposures and decide on your big screen which one is the best.
I prefer the wide-angle lenses for cityscape photography though, it is a personal preference, but the most important is to keep the hood on to reduce the lens flares.
In night photography getting the focus right is very tricky, the auto-focus does not work sufficiently in low light. So turn on your camera view and zoom in till you find some bright spot so that you can easily adjust your focus right.
Study the scene to get the best frame that you want. Sometimes, cropping in Photoshop will not help you if you found something in the foreground you don’t like, so it will kill your composition, better move with your camera in the location to get the best result.
Tripod is a must, and no matter how good your tripod is, you still can get a shaky result which you will not be able notice on your LCD it usually happens while pressing the shutter button (you still can create some movement). What you can do is use a remote or even a timer. Some recommends to use mirror lock-up to reduce the shutter shake. Considering all these factors you will be able to get the best sharpness that you want.
Shooting in RAW will give you a better chance to edit your exposure. There are times you might need to add more stops to your exposure, or change the white balance and brighten the dark spots.
Clarity is crucial for night photography, always try to shoot in a decent clarity for the best sharpness.
Some might beg to differ with me on this, but to get the best result in night photography you will need a decent DSLR camera with a high dynamic range, it means that your camera can see better in the dark. Plus you will need a good quality lens, but, you don’t need to buy it if you can’t afford it, I believe that renting these gears are now available everywhere with a reasonable price.
When you get to edit your shots, digital blending is a very common technique now, by simply combining multiple exposures into one shot, this will make you able to have a better control on the dark areas. Personally, I am a fan of the single exposure. I do believe it still has its own charm.
After you are done, you might need to do some post processing on your shots, it is a personal taste and you can read a lot about it over the internet, but always be careful and don’t overwork the post processing. You can add some mood or color tint but always keep the white balance correct. I keep the white as white and the black as black and I try to do the processing on the mid-tones.